July 21, 2013

Enos Kellogg Barn Restoration - Overview of the Project

For anyone who is interested, I thought that I would post a brief overview of what restoring our c.1784 barn will actually entail.  For the sake of clarity, I will break out the work by each of the three barn bays.
 
For those who don't know, timber framed barns are divided into bays, which are the areas between each bent.  A bent is a portion of the barn frame that consists of two or more vertical posts, joined together at the top  by a horizontal tie beam or girt.  When you picture a barn raising, you probably picture a bent being lifted up.  This scene from the movie Witness (which, by the way, is an awesome movie, ranking in my Harrison Ford hierarchy behind only the Star Wars and Raiders trilogies [sorry, I know that there were four Indiana Jones movies, but I prefer to live in a world where Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does not exist] should give you an idea of what I mean.



Raising a bent in Witness

Our barn, like most traditional Connecticut barns of the 18th century, is comprised of four bents and three bays.  The center bay was used for threshing grain. As such it would have had a wood floor to provide a clean, hard surface for threshing (see picture at right).  While our floor is long gone, one floor support and a handful of joist mortises in an original ground sill provide evidence of its original design.  We are restoring the threshing floor to its original configuration based on this evidence. 
 
One side bay (the west bay, in our barn) was the animal bay, used for housing cattle and sometimes other animals.  We know which side was the animal bay in our barn by the presence of three cattle doors at the west gable end of the barn, and by the cattle stanchions (used to hold a cow's head during milking) that remain in place in our barn.  The third bay (the east bay on our barn) was the mow, used for storing hay and other animal fodder.
 
Cattle Stanchion
 

OK, with that digression out of the way, herewith is what needs to happen on our barn:
 
 
East (Mow) Bay (this is where the barn had suffered the most over the years, with decay, water damage and some serious hurt from the pine tree that fell on it during Super Storm Sandy last year)
  • Replace northeast corner post with new hewn white oak post
  • Tenon repair on mid post
  • Tenon repair on southeast corner post
  • Replace 30' tie beam with new hewn white oak post
  • Replace rotted, broken and missing nailers with white oak salvaged from rafters
  • Replace all ground sills with milled white oak
  • Replace all roof plates with milled hemlock
Center (Threshing) Bay
  • Tenon repair on northeast post
  • Replace rotted bottom of southwest post with oak salvaged from east bay
  • Tenon repair on centereast post
  • Replace southeast post with new hewn white oak post
  • Replace missing centerwest post with new hewn white oak post
  • Replace missing nailers with white oak salvaged from rafters
  • Replace all ground sills with milled white oak
  • Replace all roof plates with milled hemlock
  • Install new swinging doors on north and south sides of barn using 60" forged iron strap hinges and pintles
West (Animal) Bay
  • Likely tenon repair on northwest post
  • Likely tenon repair on southwest post
  • Tenon repair on tie-beam
  • Replace missing nailers with white oak salvaged from rafters
  • Replace all ground sills with milled white oak
  • Replace all roof plates with milled hemlock
Throughout Barn
  • Replace all missing or damaged bracing
  • Replace all siding with shiplapped, wide plank tongue-and-groove boards over rough sawn boards
  • Replace all rafters, restoring roof profile to original 12:12 pitch
  • Install metal roof over 12" rough cut boards (sadly we can't afford to put up cedar shingles) 
  • Install wide plank floor, with necessary supports and joists
  • Rebuild dry-laid fieldstone foundation

Wow, that's a hell of a lot of work for 2 months.  The overriding philosophy is to save as much of the original fabric of the barn as possible, and to restore the barn to its appearance c.1784, using appropriate materials, tools, and techniques, with particular attention paid to replicating the joinery methodologies employed when the structure was originally built.  Wish us luck.

3 comments:

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  2. Just to let you know that this has been an amazing reference. In the middle of creating graphics for a project, and there are very few clean images of an 18th century american homestead as useful as this.
    I wish you the best of luck in your ongoing project.

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    1. Thanks, Richard! Good luck with your project, too.

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